Residents demand transparency before voting deadline

Miami Gardens shares details on $60 million bond

Carla St.Louis | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.
“Speak the truth, and shame the Devil,” goes the popular Christian saying, and the policy makers of the City of ...

Others followed suit saying, “We need to respect that the City is trying to do the best they can for this community. I commend the administration for trying to better our City.”

“Sixty million dollars is a drop in the bucket when it comes to our children,” said one audience member during the question-and-answer segment.

Benson argued, once the community approves to reinvest in itself by approving the $60 million dollar general obligation bond, the City will install surveillance cameras at various locations. This move left many residents divided, with some for it, giving examples of transgressions occurring in broad daylight and others against it saying it violated their rights.

Benson also admitted the bond has flexibility, citing the City can purchase lots to build new parks if the community decides a specific park such as Bunche Park, Myrtle Grove Park, Bennett M. Lifter Park, Cloverleaf Park or Andover Park isn’t worth salvaging.

“This is the sound of change,” said Mayor Gilbert. “I’ve been here all my life. Last year, there were eleven shootings in ten days” he said after he revealed that he’s heard the City referred to as Murder Gardens due to last year’s alarming crime rate.

“I’m the Mayor and make no mistake before I was the Mayor I was a member of the community. The people are as good as any other people. They deserve these opportunities for their kids; they deserve to feel safe in their neighborhood.”

Many residents, such as Tessa Gordon, were reluctant about the proposed renovations for Miami Garden's parks. Gordon was worried that it might be a financial waste, citing a lack of parental and community participation for sports outside of football like soccer, softball and baseball. Gordon, a mother of four who was born and raised in the City, said she had to enroll her children to play sports at facilities in Aventura and Miami Shores due to a lack of community engagement for local sports.

Benson reassured her, explaining visitation and program enrollment within the City’s park system had increased by more than 50 percent.

Some residents also pushed for the City to search for other alternative sources of revenue citing examples of fund generators such as Jazz in the Gardens and City Place in West Palm Beach, but Benson admitted funding is either no longer available or has become more restrictive.

Although some residents were still upset with the administration’s lack of communication in regards to the bond’s preliminary stages and transparency--two points that were brought up repeatedly throughout the meeting--Benson vouched that they would tackle transparency together.

“If someone says to you we shouldn’t do this, ask him what should we do and when should we do it,” said Mayor Gilbert. “I’m tired about hearing the problems. We must approve this bond.”